Want to sue United Airlines in small claims court?

Your Guide to Sue United Airlines in Small Claims Court

Your United Airlines Contract probably says you won’t be able to sue them in most courts. The exception is small claims court. This can be a complicated and time-consuming endeavor but if you do it the right way, you’ll usually get what you want.


Does your claim qualify?

First you have to make sure that your small claims court will accept your issue before you sue United Airlines. Small claims courts are for specific issues only.

There are two things you need to pay attention to:

  1. The amount of money: The first is the monetary limit. Every small claims court has a maximum amount you can ask for in damages. So, if all you want is a refund for an overcharge, that might fall within the limits but if what you want instead is a refund for $12,000 worth of goods that you brought back in your suitcase, it might not qualify.
  2. The type of relief: The second is the type of damages you want. Using the example above, most small claims courts will only provide monetary compensation so they wouldn’t force United Airlines to give you the actual goods that were damaged or buy you another suitcase but if you sue United Airlines you can potentially get the value of those goods.

If your claim doesn’t fall within the limits of your state’s small claims court, you’ll have to arbitrate your claim instead.


Send a demand letter (ask nicely).

Before you sue United Airlines most small claims courts request that you asked them to voluntarily fix your problem before you actually file a claim.

The letter can be very straightforward and just explain who you are, what the problem is, and how you want the company to fix it.

When you’re done, you just have to mail a hard copy of that letter to their legal address preferably through certified mail or another service where you can confirm it was accepted by the company:

United Airlines, Inc.

If you would like examples of demand letters or more information about how to write them, you can find an excellent guide here.


Fill out court forms.

This can be meticulous and requires a lot of concentration. First you have to find the right forms. Every state court is different and some counties have additional forms. All of this information should be found on your state court website.

Then you have to fill out the right number of copies, or just copy the right number from your original. Most states require that when you file your forms you have three or four copies. If you don’t have the right number, they won’t accept it.


File the complaint with the court.

Once your forms are properly filled out and you have the right quantity you have to officially file.

This can be somewhat tricky because every Court will have a different requirement just the same as every Court will have a different form. Most courts require you to physically go to the courthouse for hand delivery of the forms. There are a few courts that might let you submit it by mail, fax, or online. 

You will also have to pay a small claims court filing fee before you can sue United Airlines. The amount should be published on your court website.

Once you are done, the county clerk will give you some stamped copies and a hearing date.


“Serve” your forms on United Airlines.

The court will give you back multiple copies but they aren’t all for you. One of them is for United Airlines. When you sue United Airlines you have to let them know that you have formally started the process.

This is called serving. You have to deliver a copy of your file papers in accordance with your state court and local Court. You can look at your Courts website or instructions on how to do this. Some courts have very strange rules but no matter how odd it seems you have to make sure to follow it otherwise they can throw out your case.


Show up for court.

Remember that the county clerk gave you a hearing date? That’s your court date.

You have to make sure you show up to the right courthouse on time and have your copy of the file documents with you. Bring with you any evidence you have to back up why you deserve compensation. Sometimes they will show up to oppose you and other times they won’t.

Regardless, it’s up to you to present to the judge your side.

Ready to sue United Airlines in small claims court?
If this sounds too hard and expensive, try consumer arbitration instead…

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